Launched in 2015, our five-year strategy concluded with impressive results
In 2015, White & Case Chair Hugh Verrier laid out an ambitious, five-year 2020 Strategy built on three pillars:
- Growing profitably: Focusing on targeted, profitable growth, particularly in the United States and London. Nurturing growth in selected industries and practices that play to our strengths in handling complex cross-border work.
- Engaging our people: Creating a more engaged Firm, seeking people who share our values and desire the opportunities only a global law firm can deliver. Ensuring that every office is a great place to work, and offering all of our people pathways to growth.
- Nurturing strong relationships: Positioning our Firm for the future, as a global elite law firm that is top of mind for global clients, and an employer of choice for top talent.
Despite the global struggles in the final year of the 2015 – 2020 strategy, the Firm achieved its goals.
Our revenue rose a remarkable 57 percent over the five years, and revenue in our targeted industries alone increased by more than two-thirds.
We succeeded in growing our partner counts in key markets—by almost half in the US, and by a third in New York and London. We set out to become a more competitive force in the US market. By the end of 2020, we grew the number of lawyers in the US by more than 50 percent, and our New York office grew to more than 500 lawyers.
Our focus on key industries helped pull together our capabilities globally and was instrumental in the rationale for opening offices in Houston, Chicago and Boston.
Eighty percent of our offices moved to new premises or underwent major renovations during the five years, all designed to make White & Case a great place to work.
The Firm continued to prioritize diversity and inclusion. We also started to use engagement surveys to create a closer connection with our people. We reinvented how we recruit—to make it more consistent and effective around the world—and we developed an employee value proposition, which reflects our promise to help build the careers of our people.
Setting us firmly among the global elite law firms, the White & Case 2020 Strategy was a success—and a strong foundation for the future.
The Strategy “has transformed how we see ourselves, and given us newfound confidence that we can achieve ambitious goals,” said Verrier, announcing the Strategy’s conclusion. “It has also transformed how the market sees us, as a firm with greater capabilities, cohesion and ambition, more attractive to clients and to talent.”
Scroll down to hear members of our Executive Committee describe how our 2020 Strategy transformed White & Case over the past five years, and offer a vision of what is still to come.
Client relationships—growing stronger together
One of the key pillars of our 2020 Strategy was a focus on strengthening our global client relationships. We know our clients expect value beyond the legal work we do. As a member of our Firm’s Executive Committee, the key part of my role is to lead the implementation of our client strategy. What does that mean for me on a day-to-day basis?
We listen closely to our clients. We consider what they’re trying to achieve and how we can best support them. And we try to help them see around corners to anticipate issues. We’re also focused on our clients’ feedback, considering ways that we can improve. Communicating with clients is one of the reasons I love this job. I always come away with significant insights that help guide the Firm’s direction.
Helping our new partners strengthen the skills that they need to be great client partners, as well as exceptional lawyers, is a real passion
We’re committed to bringing the Firm’s best expertise to bear for each client engagement. As a single partnership globally, we work together as a team to deliver the very best service and experience for our clients. One of the most important things I do is to ensure we’re connecting the dots across our global network.
Over the past few years, we’ve implemented an extensive development program for our new partners that we’re extremely proud of. I participate actively in the client portion of this training, which we run several times each year. Helping our new partners strengthen the skills they need to be great client partners—and exceptional lawyers—is a real passion.
I’m also focused on helping to ensure our women, racial and ethnic minority and LGBT+ lawyers are given opportunities to participate actively in our client relationship teams. We see our diversity as a strength, and we are committed to giving everyone the opportunity to enjoy a successful career at the Firm.
We’ve achieved a great deal over the past five years. In the years ahead, we’ll continue our unwavering focus on giving our clients an outstanding experience when they turn to White & Case.
Growth—a stronger Firm, better positioned for the future
When we set our 2020 Strategy five years ago, we made growth in the United States and London a key pillar of the strategy. We did this because of the importance that size and strength in these critical markets play in our global Firm.
Now, we knew from the beginning that size alone wasn’t the answer. We had to grow with talented lawyers in the right practices serving the right clients in the right industries. And we’ve done that.
Five years ago, we had 650 lawyers in the United States, which is a lot of lawyers but a fraction of the number that we need to be a competitive force in the US market. We set our sights on having 1,000 lawyers in the US, and we achieved that goal by the end of 2019.
We had to grow with talented lawyers in the right practices, serving the right clients, in the right industries, and we’ve done that
And while our growth strategy wasn’t about geography, in our quest for talent we’ve built our New York office to over 500 lawyers, and added new offices in Boston, Chicago and Houston. In London, we’ve strengthened our partnership—which fuels our English law capability globally. We’ve grown from 80 partners in London at the start of 2015 to 120 partners in 2020.
As we turn this page of the Firm’s history and move to our next chapter, it couldn’t be clearer to us that to provide exceptional service to clients globally, we will need to continue to build on our strength in the US and London.
Looking ahead—we’re only getting started
When I think about White & Case’s future, I start with the past. We accomplished a lot with the five-year strategy we just concluded. But you can’t really call any of that work “finished.” It’s ongoing, it’s now forever part of us, and we need to continue the trajectory that brought about so much success for our Firm, and for our clients.
Still, we cannot ignore the fact that 2020 generated so much disruption that no one could have anticipated in 2015 when we were setting this strategy. And honestly, we’re still living it; we’re still sorting it out, and we’re still making sense of it. But the experience has already taught us much about what we need to do going forward. About new ways of working, and maybe better ways of working. And about ways to better insulate the Firm and its clients from future disruptions, in whatever form they may take.
We’ll continue to design new ways of working that deliver efficiency and value for our clients
So last year, many people had to adapt to new ways of doing things. That, of course, was a necessity, but it’s also the start of a great experiment and it can be an incubator for new ideas. What we went through in 2020 has only accelerated changes in the way we work. And I can see that will continue in the future. We’ll continue to innovate, we’ll continue to embrace technology and we’ll continue to design new ways of working that deliver efficiency and value for our clients.
Challenge leads to opportunity. That’s a cliché, but it is also true. And the extraordinary challenges we faced in 2020 I think in the end will lead White & Case and its clients to a safer, more secure and more rewarding future, together. So, see you there.